The council has backed £3.35m of post-Grenfell fire safety works including retrofitting sprinklers at Coley High Rise.

The cost of fire safety works at the three tower blocks in Reading, including installing sprinklers, has risen by around £850,000 after just one provider – United Living – bid for the contract.

Reading Borough Council’s (BRC) Policy committee unanimously approved the plans on Monday night.

Councillor John Ennis said: “Reading has shown time and time again it is ahead of the game.

“We legally don’t need to retrospectively refit sprinklers in Coley but we value the safety of our residents too much to compromise their safety.

“We will do whatever is necessary to ensure the safety of our tenants.”

The council committed in February 2018 to spend up to £2.5m on improving fire safety regulations at Coley High Rise following the Grenfell Fire tragedy.

Coley High Rise does not have cladding similar to Grenfell Tower but an independent fire inspector recommended the works.

The estimated cost for the works at the three 15-storey tower blocks, on Wensley Road, has risen to up to £3.35 million after only one offer was received.

A shortage of available contractors due increased demand post-Grenfell has pushed up costs, according to the report from the Monday, April 8, meeting.

The works, which include replacing the water storage facility as well as installing sprinklers in the 267 flats, are anticipated to be completed by July 2020 and could start as soon as this June.

The council and United Living will now enter into a ‘value engineering exercise’ – where they try to find a way of reducing costs without impacting on the quality of the work – if plans are approved by lead councillors next week.

The report states: “Given the urgent nature of the works it is not an option to wait to see if the market will rebalance at a future date.”

The council will replace the water storage facility, mains water supplies and distribution pipe work at the same time.

RBC also approved a new ground level water storage tank and pumping station.

As well as increasing fire safety, RBC expect the works to reduce maintenance costs and the need to access flats to carry out repairs.

The £3.35 million spend figure includes a contingency or reserve of 10 per cent, which the council says ‘is prudent given the nature and complexity of the works’.

The extra £850,000 will come out of the council’s Housing Capital budget.